Cardiac arrest patient thanks paramedics, doctors for saving his life
Steve Saunders and Angela Jung, CTV News Vancouver
Published Monday, April 8, 2019 4:46PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 8, 2019 7:13PM PDT
Monday was a special day for 55-year-old physician Chris Dawkins. For the first time, he met the people who saved his life.
Just over two months ago, his heart had stopped beating and he was considered clinically dead.
Dawkins had just finished a workout at home on his rowing machine on the evening of Feb. 5 when he collapsed from cardiac arrest.
"Apparently I just sat on the bed and lost my colour and started to slump," he said.
He doesn’t remember suffering the heart attack but luckily his wife, Fran, saw him fall and immediately called 911.
On the other line was dispatcher Anne-Marie Forrest, who helped coach Fran as she performed CPR.
"As a call taker, you can only hope that they’re only doing what you’re asking them to do. His wife did an amazing job," she said.
First responders used all the recommended treatments, including CPR, defibrillation and advanced medications but nothing was working.
Under normal medical protocols, he would have been declared dead, Providence Health said.
But on that day, a highly trained team of advanced life support paramedics was dispatched. They specialize in dealing with cardiac arrests and were able to assess that Dawkins was a candidate for a new protocol.
They connected Dawkins to a portable automatic chest compress device called the LUCAS machine, which performs CPR uninterrupted while they raced to bring him to St. Paul’s hospital.
They said he qualified for the treatment because of his age and most of all, because his wife had kept his blood flowing through CPR during those first critical moments.
"From my perspective, the amazing chain of events, and the incredible number of professionals that worked hard and worked together in such a short timeframe, helped to ensure Dr. Dawkins survived," said paramedic Ben Johnson.
At the emergency department, a team of 15 physicians, nurses, cardiologists, anesthesiologists and respiratory therapists were able to connect Dawkins to the life-saving machines that kept his heart and lungs working as they diagnosed and removed the blockage that caused the cardiac arrest.
From the immediate response from his wife Fran and the paramedics, Dawkins' blood supply had been constant and enabled the team at St. Paul’s to have a successful outcome.
"It’s very tough to get a patient from outside the hospital to us and be able to make a tremendous success like this," cardiologist Dr. Jamil Bashir said.
"Those few minutes are not very long. And to be able to have all the pieces of the puzzle all done exactly right to get him to us like this is really unusual."
Nine weeks after his cardiac arrest, Dawkins has been back to work for five weeks and is appreciating where he’s at.
"I feel really good mentally, physically. Incredibly thankful... so many things were aligned for it to work out the way it did."